Dr Abdul Waheed KHAN who currently occupies the post of Assistant Director-General for Communication and Information at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, was born in 1947 in a remote village in Basti, Uttar Pradesh (India). His journey from an Indian village to a high level position with a UN agency is the exciting story of a self-made man, a high achiever, a visionary, an innovator, and a dynamic leader. Dr Khan is an institution builder, an efficient manager, a skillful diplomat, a development practitioner and an accomplished scholar. Moreover, he is a true global citizen with strong commitment to improving the lives of marginalized groups and communities.
After completing his PhD in Mass Communication from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, USA in 1973, Dr Khan joined G. B. Pant University of Agriculture and Technology as Associate Director-in-Charge of the Communication Centre. He developed it into a Centre of Excellence in Agricultural Communication, recognized by UNESCO and UNDP. In 1975, he was appointed as Director of Programmes at All India Radio, where he managed a national rural broadcasting network and launched Farm School on the air, to educate farmers in scientific agriculture. In 1980, Dr Khan obtained the position of Communication Research Specialist with UNESCO to assist the Government of Bangladesh in the development of broadcasting services. Impressed by his performance, FAO appointed him as a Communication Specialist in 1984 to assist the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Forestry in Nepal to develop capacities in communication. In 1986, he was invited by the newly created Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) to be the founder Director/Professor of the Communication Division. In this capacity, Dr Khan built a state of the art educational media production facility.
Later in life, Dr Khan moved to the Commonwealth of Learning in Vancouver, Canada where he served as Senior Programme Officer, Acting Head of Communication and Information and Principal Communication Specialist. He assisted open and distance learning institutions in developing Commonwealth countries, in particular in Africa, to develop human resources in educational media. He returned to India in 1998 to take up the position of Vice-Chancellor of IGNOU, which was then one of the largest universities in the world. In this capacity, he developed a network of distance teaching universities in India. He was also responsible for launching an educational broadcasting network of television and radio. In 2001, Dr Khan was nominated to his current position within UNESCO, where he provides valuable leadership to the Communication and Information Sector.
It is worth noting that Dr Khan was one of the forerunners anticipating the development of knowledge societies, recognizing the economic, social and cultural consequences of the rapid development of information and communication technologies. Based on his vision that all societies should have equal access to information and knowledge in an atmosphere of respect for cultural diversity, he has developed and designed strategic initiatives in the application of information and communication technologies in open and distance education, including online learning.
He enjoys a global leadership position in fostering digital opportunities for social and economic inclusion. He represented UNESCO at the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), Global Knowledge Partnership, Strategic Council for the Global Alliance for ICT for Development and the UN Secretary General's Task Force on Information and Communication Technology. He has demonstrated leadership in distance education, learning technologies and development communication. He has served as Chairman, Distance Education Council (India), President of the Asian Association of Open Universities (AAOU), Vice-President of the International Council of Distance Education (ICDE) and Chairman of Digital Opportunity Trust (Canada).
Dr Khan is the recipient of numerous awards and distinctions, including the Raji Gandhi National Integration Award, Super Brain of India Gold Award, Commonwealth of Learning's Distinguished Service Award, Millenium Award for Education and World Peace, and Honorary Doctorate from Jamia Hamdard University (India).
In recognition of Dr Abdul Waheed Khan's outstanding contribution to education and development through innovative application of information and communication technologies, the Dayawati Modi Foundation for Art Culture and Education has the privilege to bestow on him the 11th Dayawati Modi Award for Art Culture and Education 2006.